Members Can Post Anonymously On This Site
NASA’s X-59 quiet supersonic research aircraft is dramatically lit for a “glamour shot,” captured before its Jan. 12, 2024, rollout at Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works facility in Palmdale where the airplane was constructed.Credit: Lockheed Martin / Michael Jackson NASA has issued new grants to five universities to help develop education plans for the community overflight phase of the agency’s Quesst mission, which aims to demonstrate the possibility of supersonic flight without the typical loud sonic booms.
The new grants, from NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, will provide each university team with $40,000 to develop science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) engagement strategic implementation plans for those Quesst community overflights. The awards will focus on plans for engaging with students and educators in the communities that NASA will eventually select for overflights. This will help ensure communities are accurately informed about this phase of Quesst and what involvement in the mission will look like for their community.
“The Quesst mission is unique at NASA, with community input playing a major part in its success,” said Eric Miller, deputy mission integration manager for Quesst. “These new awards will allow NASA to learn from other STEM professionals, informing us as we develop a framework to effectively engage with students and educators.”
The selected institutions and their projects, are:
Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin – STEM Quesst, Wisconsin Space Grant Cornell University, Ithaca, New York –Quesst Community Overflight STEM Engagement New York Space Grant Consortium Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia – Engaging the National NASA Space Grant Network in Support of the Quesst Community Overflight STEM Engagement University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico – Space Grant Quesst Community Overflight STEM Engagement: Sounds of Our World University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California – California Space Grant Planning Support for the Quesst Community Overflight STEM Engagement The deliverables from the awards will help inform a student engagement approach that can be implemented in any community, state, and region that may be selected. NASA has yet to select communities for the overflights.
Through Quesst, NASA is developing its X-59 experimental aircraft, which will fly faster than the speed of sound while producing only a quiet sonic “thump.” After the X-59 completes a series of flight tests, NASA will fly it over a number of communities across the country, gathering data about what people below hear.
For more information about Quesst, visit:
Last Updated Feb 27, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters Related Terms
Quesst (X-59) Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate For Kids and Students Learning Resources NASA Headquarters Quesst: The Mission Quesst: The Science Quesst: The Team STEM Engagement at NASA View the full article
NASA's SpaceX Crew-8 Launch (Official NASA Broadcast in 4K)
3 min read
Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
Meredith Patterson, front row, center right, poses with her teammates in the High-Powered Rocketry Club at North Carolina State University on the day they launched the rocket they built for NASA’s 2023 Student Launch. The experience and knowledge Patterson gained from her years participating in the annual competition helped pave the way for a career at NASA after graduation. High-Powered Rocketry Club at NC State By Jessica Barnett
Sometimes, all it takes is a few years and the right people to completely change a person’s career trajectory. One such example is Meredith Patterson, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, who went from knowing little to nothing about rockets to being part of the team that is working to put humans back on the Moon.
She credits her success in large part to NASA’s Student Launch, which not only helped her uncover her passion for aerospace engineering but gave her the knowledge and experience she needed to get where she is today.
The annual Student Launch competition invites student teams from across the U.S. to spend nine months designing, building, and testing a high-powered rocket carrying a scientific or engineering payload. The hands-on, research-based engineering activity culminates each year in a final launch in Huntsville. This year’s challenge conclusion is set for April 10-14, with the final launch date set for April 13 at Bragg Farms in Toney, Alabama.
While Student Launch is open to students as young as sixth grade, Patterson was in her junior year of high school when she learned about the competition during a tour of North Carolina State University.
“When I walked into the rocketry lab there, I knew then, however many years it was going to take, I wanted to be the person who was able to run that and help put together everything for us to be successful in Student Launch,” Patterson said.
Meredith Patterson, then-freshman at North Carolina State University, assembles the competition vehicle used by the school’s high-powered rocketry club in this photo from the NASA’s 2019 Student Launch. Patterson was a member of the club and a regular participant in Student Launch for five years before graduating and turning her experience into a full-time career as an aerospace engineer at NASA. High-Powered Rocketry Club at NC State She attended North Carolina State for five years, participating in each year’s Student Launch competition and leading the team to a fourth-place win during her final year. She received her Level I and Level II certifications from Tripoli Rocketry Association through Student Launch, and she was able to connect with mentors from Tripoli and the National Rocketry Association that helped her get the hands-on experience and technical know-how she believes are key to success in the aerospace industry.
“My leadership skills grew, my system engineering skills grew, and my technical writing skills grew,” Patterson said. “Having mentors through the competition allowed me to ask questions and learn on the technical side of things, too. I think I use more information from Student Launch day to day than from almost any of my classes in college.”
She said attending an engineering camp at 16 years old first unlocked her interest in spaceflight and rocketry, but it was through Student Launch that she got to really dive in and deepen her passion.
“It’s crazy to think that less than 10 years ago, I had never even built a rocket, and now I can build Level II-sized rockets on my own and I’m actively working on the biggest solid rocket boosters in the world,” Patterson said. “Just in the past year, I’ve gone from the L-class motor that we used for Student Launch to casting 11-inch motors to now actively watching the casting of the SLS (Space Launch System) boosters.”
Meredith Patterson, a former competitor in NASA’s Student Launch Challenge, now works as an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.NASA Student Launch is part of NASA’s Artemis Student Challenges. Seventy teams representing 24 states and Puerto Rico were selected to compete in the 2024 Student Launch Challenge.
Marshall hosts the Student Launch challenge with management support provided by NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement – Southeast Region. Funding is provided, in part, by NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate and NASA’s Next Gen STEM project.
Last Updated Feb 27, 2024 Related Terms
Marshall Space Flight Center Explore More
5 min read NASA’s Planetary Protection Team Conducts Vital Research for Deep Space Missions
Article 5 days ago 3 min read NASA to Continue Testing for New Artemis Moon Rocket Engines
Article 5 days ago 30 min read The Marshall Star for February 21, 2024
Article 6 days ago Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
Faces of STEM
NASA Student Launch Challenge
Middle/high school and college-level student teams design, build, test, and launch a high-powered rocket carrying a scientific or engineering payload.
Marshall Space Flight Center
View the full article
5 Min Read The CUTE Mission: Innovative Design EnablesObservations of Extreme Exoplanets from a SmallPackage
Fig 1: Artist’s concept of the CUTE mission on-orbit. CUTE has been operating in a 560 km sun-synchronous orbit since September 2021. Credits:
NASA Of the approximately 5,500 exoplanets discovered to date, many have been found to orbit very close to their parent stars. These close-in planets provide a unique opportunity to observe in detail the phenomena critical to the development and evolution of our own solar system, including atmospheric mass loss and interactions with the host star. NASA’s Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE) mission, launched in September 2021, employed a new design that enabled exploration of these processes using a small spacecraft for the first time. CUTE provides unique spectral diagnostics that trace the escaping atmospheres of close-in, ultra-hot, giant planets. In addition, CUTE’s dedicated mission architecture enables the survey duration required to characterize atmospheric structure and variability on these worlds.
Atmospheric escape is a fundamental process that affects the structure, composition, and evolution of many planets. It has operated on all of the terrestrial planets in our solar system and likely drives the demographics of the short-period planet population characterized by NASA’s Kepler mission. In fact, atmospheric escape ultimately may be the determining factor when predicting the habitability of temperate, terrestrial exoplanets. Escaping exoplanet atmospheres were first observed in the hydrogen Lyman-alpha line (121nm) in 2003. However, contamination by neutral hydrogen in both the intervening interstellar medium and Earth’s upper atmosphere makes obtaining high-quality Lyman-alpha transit measurements for most exoplanets very challenging. By contrast, a host star’s near-ultraviolet (NUV; 250 – 350 nm) flux is two to three orders of magnitude higher than Lyman-alpha, and transit light curves can be measured against a smoother stellar surface intensity distribution.
This knowledge motivated a team led by Dr. Kevin France at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics to design the CUTE mission (Fig 1). The team proposed the CUTE concept to NASA through the ROSES/Astrophysics Research and Analysis (APRA) Program in February 2016 and NASA funded the project in July 2017. The CUTE instrument pioneered use of two technologies on a small space mission: a novel, rectangular Cassegrain telescope (20cm × 8cm primary mirror) and a miniature, low-resolution spectrograph operating from approximately 250 – 330 nm. The rectangular telescope was fabricated to accommodate the unique instrument volume of the 6U CubeSat form factor, an adaptation that delivers approximately three times the collecting area of a traditional, circular aperture telescope. The compact spectrograph meets the spectral resolution requirements of the mission while using scaled down component technology adapted from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Fig 2 – Image of the CUTE science instrument, including rectangular telescope and miniaturized spectrograph, mounted to the spacecraft bus. Credit: CUTE Team, University of Colorado This novel instrument design enables CUTE to measure NUV with similar precision as larger missions even in the more challenging thermal and pointing environment experienced by a CubeSat. In addition, the CUTE instrument’s NUV bandpass enables it to measure iron and magnesium ions from highly extended atmospheric layers that ground-based instruments cannot access. The CUTE science instrument is incorporated into a 6U Blue Canyon Technologies spacecraft bus that provides power, command and data handling, attitude control, and communications. This CubeSat platform enables CUTE to observe numerous transits of a given planet. The spectrogram from the CUTE instrument is recorded on a UV-optimized commercial off-the-shelf charge-coupled device (CCD), onboard data processing is performed, and data products are relayed to a ground station at the University of Colorado.
Fig 3 –Graduate student Arika Egan (center) and electrical engineer Nicholas DeCicco (left) install CUTE into the LANDSAT-9 secondary payload dispenser at Vandenberg Space Force Base. Credit: CUTE Team, University of Colorado CUTE was launched as a secondary payload on NASA’s LANDSAT-9 mission on September 27, 2021 into a Sun-synchronous orbit with a 560 km apogee. CUTE deployed from the payload dispenser (Fig 2) approximately two hours after launch and then deployed its solar arrays. Spacecraft beacon signals were identified by the amateur radio community on the first orbit and communications were established with the ground station at the University of Colorado the following day. On-orbit commissioning of the spacecraft and instrument concluded in February 2022 and the mission has been conducting science operations since that time.
As of February 2024, CUTE is actively acquiring science and calibration data (Fig 3), and has observed between 6 and 11 transits of seven different exoplanetary systems. Data downlink efficiency is the primary factor limiting the number of targets observed over the course of the mission. CUTE light curves and transit spectroscopy are revealing extended NUV atmospheres on some planets (Fig 4) and potential time variability in the atmospheric transmission spectra of others. For example, observations of the ultra-hot exoplanet, Jupiter WASP-189b, indicate a highly extended atmosphere. Magnesium ions are observed to be gravitationally unbound from the planet, which is evidence for active escape of heavy elements in this system. CUTE data are being archived by the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI).
Fig 4 – Flight data from CUTE showing raw CCD observations (top) and calibrated one-dimensional spectra (bottom). Image credit: France et al (2023) Fig 5 – CUTE NUV transit light curve of the ultra-hot exoplanet, Jupiter WASP-189b. This light curve was created from three separate transit visits to the planet. Image credit: Sreejith, et al (2023) CUTE successfully demonstrated the use of a non-circular telescope and miniature spectrograph design for small space missions, an approach that has been subsequently adopted by several NASA and international mission designs, including NASA’s new Monitoring Activity from Nearby sTars with uv Imaging and Spectroscopy (MANTIS) mission. CUTE’s demonstration of sub-1% NUV precision has shown that the precision achieved by large UV astronomy missions can also be achieved by a CubeSat. In addition, student training and early-career mentorship have been key ingredients to CUTE’s mission success. So far, over 20 early career students and professionals have trained and participated in CUTE activities—ranging from science to engineering to operations.
Professor Kevin France, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics/University of Colorado
Astrophysics Division Astrophysics Research and Analysis Program
Last Updated Feb 27, 2024 Related Terms
Astrophysics Science-enabling Technology Technology Highlights Explore More
1 min read Hubble Views an Active Star-Forming Galaxy
4 days ago
5 min read Webb Finds Evidence for Neutron Star at Heart of Young Supernova Remnant
5 days ago
2 min read Hubble Views a Massive Star Forming
2 weeks ago
View the full article
Credit: NASA/Kenny Allen NASA astronaut and Artemis II pilot Victor Glover is assisted by U.S. Navy personnel as he exits a mockup of the Orion spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean during training Feb. 25, while his crewmates look on. The Artemis II crew and a team from NASA and the Department of Defense are spending several days at sea to test the procedures and tools that will be used to help the crew to safety when they splash down in the ocean at the end of their 10-day, 685,000-mile journey around the Moon next year as part of the first crewed mission under NASA’s Artemis campaign.
On the day of the crew’s return to Earth, a Navy ship with specially trained personnel will await splashdown and then approach the Orion capsule to help extract the four astronauts. An inflatable raft, called the front porch, will provide a place for them to rest when they exit the capsule before they are then individually hoisted by helicopters and flown to the waiting ship.
Artemis II, launching atop the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will test the Orion spacecraft’s life support systems needed for future lunar missions.
View the full article
Check out these Videos